Suitcase Vintage strikes me as the truest incarnation of what one might call a "nostalgia shop."
Now, as anyone who has seen Midnight in Paris likely knows, the term doesn't offer any sort of ready definition, but "nostalgia shop" immediately popped into my head once I started browsing the offerings at this new Dundas West shop.
Unlike typical "vintage" or "antique" shops, the collection of pieces at Suitcase Vintage don't fall into a distinct category. That is, it's not simply vintage furniture or antique decor items, but an assortment of quirky merchandise that ranges from appliances and electronics, to toys and newspapers, to functional pieces of furniture. But they all seem united through a sort of "remember when..." quality, as though they were plucked from an old house.
And in a strange way, they sort of were. "My brother is a real estate agent," says Rory, who, along with partner Sarah, opened the shop in early August. "Sometimes he'll sell these old houses with some really unique old pieces. That's one of them," he says, pointing to a communist-era Russian wall phone ($175).
The shop is brimming with like history-laden objects that are sure to make any social studies scholar squeal. Along with countless back copies of LIFE magazine, Suitcase Vintage has a framed issue of the Toronto Telegram from the day John F. Kennedy was shot, as well as a few loose papers from January 28, 1967, when NASA's Apollo 1 burst into flames. There are vintage comic books, as well.
"The only new things we have in here are the crafts," Sarah says. "But since we find a lot of the pieces we use anyway, I guess they're really not that new." Sarah makes the dreamcatchers ($15-$50) displayed around the store from a variety of found objects, as well as feathers from a contact outside of the city.
Rory is the woodworker (and perhaps characteristically, walks around the shop totally barefoot), using salvage pieces to create a chair from an old wooden ladder ($225), a cedar log shelf ($165), and a vintage suitcase made into a shelf ($150).
And speaking of, Suitcase Vintage has a healthy vintage collection of its namesake (priced around $30 and up), stacked under a painted Volkswagen trunk that has been made into a lamp ($500). Why not, right? And for some other comforts of (that decades-long-gone) home, Suitcase Vintage has a few rotary phones (in working order), Zenith TV s (manual knobs and all), and plenty of books and toys.
You can also pick up a coffee or espresso to go, though not made on a vintage stovetop percolator. The "nostalgia shop" thing can only go so far, after all.
Photos by Morris Lum